NewsLocal News


'I welcome immigrants in my community': KCK community marches for 'Safe and Welcome' ordinance

Posted at 10:19 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 23:53:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Finding a home, a job and enrolling kids in school are things one can only do with a state-issued ID card. A coalition of activist groups wants to make sure no one is left without that opportunity in Kansas City, Kansas, furthering their ordinance called ‘Safe and Welcoming.’

Part of the KCK community and a broad coalition of activist groups marched downtown Friday night around the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, building calling for leaders to welcome all people.

“I welcome immigrants in my community, I believe they make the community better, stronger,” said one person who attended the rally.

The Safe and Welcome ordinance calls for the creation of a municipal ID for all, and those in favor don’t want local money used for federal immigration enforcement.

However, the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department says they don’t and won’t collaborate with ICE and don’t have the ability to enforce immigration status.

Marcus Heard says he and his family got off the streets recently and don’t have IDs.

“The reason why it’s important to me is that we need jobs, we also need homes without an ID, social or birth certificate — we are an alien, there’s no connection,” Heard said.

Many at the rally say they’ve been working toward this for nearly five years, but the county has stalled it out.

“It’s been very slow,” said Karla Juarez, Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation executive director. “We want the commission and the mayor to put it on the agenda and want the commissioners to vote yes on both parts.”

Two months ago, KCKPD launched a program for folks to get a free ID card.

But the coalition says this program isn’t as extensive as the Safe and Welcoming proposal because it doesn’t include IDs for undocumented workers.

A spokesperson with the Unified Government said they’re listening and at the table:

“Further to our discussion, the Unified Government has been actively working with the Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte Committee over the past two years to discuss and address the many issues raised. We are very proud of our rich cultural diversity and inclusive community in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas and have been at the table with the Committee trying to address their priorities.

"Our Chief Counsel has been meeting with the Committee every two weeks for the past six weeks, as recently as yesterday, to come up with proposed policy language. As the Committee has been asking for ordinance language that no other city in our region has adopted, these discussions take time and compromise.”

However, the spokesperson said there is no timeline of when it could be on the agenda yet.